The less said about the state of public toilets in cities or along highways, the better. Besides the pungent stench, these toilets are swarming with germs. For women, however, using these toilets is not less than a health hazard, and in times of emergency, many often prefer to relieve themselves in the safe confines of their home.
“71% of public washrooms are not cleaned on a regular basis, and women suffer from immense difficulty as they have to sit every time over the toilet seats while peeing and get infected by the germs and infections over the toilet seats. They don’t have other alternatives either they either have to hold the urine or wipe the toilet seats,” said the developers of Sanfe, a simple one-handed use and throw apparatus women can use to pee in public places.
Safe and clean public toilets are a serious civic problem, but two students from the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi and their professors aren’t waiting around for officials to act. Instead, they decided to develop Sanfe, a short-term and environment-friendly fix for this issue.
Harry Sehrawat and Archit Agarwal— third-year students of textile engineering at IIT-D—understood first-hand how their female friends or classmates suffer as a consequence of dirty and unhygienic toilets. This problem is especially worse when they are travelling.
“We visited many public loos across the city, and almost all of them were unhygienic and unfit for use. Upon further research, we also found out that public toilets were also one of the prominent reasons that cause Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) in women,” Sehrawat told DNA.
Both Sehrawat and Agarwal began working on Sanfe six months ago, asking their female classmates about their experience with this problem. A major design challenge standing before the duo was how to develop an apparatus that fit women of all sizes. They later reached out to a professor in the ergonomics department, who assisted in the design process.
Once the product was ready, they distributed the apparatus to their female friends and asked them for feedback on its effectiveness and the necessary changes they could make.
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“The main technique behind Sanfe is that it eliminates body contact with toilet seats. It is compact enough to be carried in a purse and can be disposed of easily after one use,” Sehrawat told the publication, explaining the various benefits of the equipment.
“Sanfe is unique in terms of its design, which is a menstrual friendly design, can [also] be used by women during her menstrual periods. Sanfe is designed keeping in mind the needs of its customers, it is a one-handed grip product, it can be used by a single hand, and the other hand can be used to hold the dress, which is ideal for the Indian Women wearing Sarees and Suits,” say the duo on their Facebook page, adding that the smooth curves of the apparatus helps women avoid paper cuts.
Made of biodegradable paper, the apparatus is priced at a cheap Rs 10 and currently available at pharmacies in and around AIIMS in Delhi. However, the Sanfe apparatus will be available in leading e-commerce platforms from next week, say the developers, and thus far has received pre-orders to the tune of 50,000 units from various organisations. For manufacturing the IIT-Delhi innovators have set up Redroom Technology, who have a unit in Noida.
“Sanfe is not only useful for the public washrooms, but also for pregnant women, women with knee pains and the back pains, as they suffer from the immense pain while sitting/squatting over toilet seats,” they say.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)
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